2012 Staff Achievement Awards - Work Performance

SFU’s annual staff achievement awards honour staffers’ exceptional personal and work-related accomplishments. Throughout this semester and next, SFU News will profile each of the 2012 winners.

Ellen VaillancourtEllen Vaillancourt


Combating ignorance about Islam

January 17, 2013

The work-performance award is perhaps the most competitive among SFU’s annual staff achievement awards, with 27 nominations in this category for 2012.

The winner this year is Ellen Vaillancourt, coordinator of the Centre for Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures.

The awards selection committee received an exceptional 24 nomination letters on her behalf from internal and external colleagues, faculty, students and others whose lives she has touched in the course of her work.

Vaillancourt knew little about the Muslim community when she took the job in spring 2008, after five years with the Office of International Development (Continuing Studies).

Her education and early career years were more related to couture than culture and religion.

Her love of people, culture and travel, however, and her passion for developing relationships with and between people have proven invaluable and impressed others with her tireless commitment to the centre and its mission.

The centre’s purpose is to encourage the academic discussion and public understanding of the cultures and societies of Muslim peoples in the past and present.

But Vaillancourt sees her job as more than just managing operations and activities.

“I see my role as being the invisible link that connects faculty, staff, students and community from the local to the global,” she says.

“Building relationships between people with a common purpose and shared vision creates a synergy where an organization can reach its full potential and flourish.”

Vaillancourt’s nominators commend her poise, professionalism, warmth and attention to detail and say she often sacrifices her personal time to assist the centre’s constituents.

“Ellen goes the extra kilometre and a half,” says one nominator. “She has a measured passion and a commitment to maturely building her role to enhance the public good—particularly in regards to the crucial role of combating ignorance about Islam. She goes way beyond what is expected. Her work is to be celebrated.”

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